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Advice On Shooting In Towns And Cities At Night

Want to shoot some night shots in the city? Have a read of this first.

| Cityscapes

Advice On Shooting In Towns And Cities At Night: Tokyo

Photo by David Clapp -


  • Tripod – longer shutter speeds mean shots are more susceptible to shake.
  • Cable/Remote Release – Help stop camera shake.
  • Camera – Consider taking a camera such as the NX200 or NX100 which are small in design making them perfect for photography out on the street.


Be careful

You might be in your own town which you think you know well but that doesn't mean you should let your guard down. It's often better to go out in a group, that way a couple of you can keep an eye on the gear and who's around you while the others take their shots. Try to stick to busy areas where there's plenty of people around and avoid shooting on Friday and Saturday nights if you can as people who have had a few drinks are never fun to deal with. Rush hours a great time to head out as there's still plenty of activity and you can turn the lights from traffic into trails that bend and curve through your shots.

When to shoot?

You may think that heading out when the sun's set will give you the best images as the light's will be at their brightest, which is true, but don't forget there will be no interest in the sky so you'll have to compose your shot so it's not a major feature. Earlier in the evening, when the sun's setting or just after it's gone down there will still be a good amount of light in the sky so colour and cloud formation will be more prominent. The lights on buildings won't show up as well but if you have a really great sky, having lights that aren't as bright shouldn’t be a problem.

What to shoot

A lot of structures are lit up at night so you should have plenty to work with. Everything from churches to train stations can work as subjects but be careful near some as you may get the odd question from a security guard wondering what you're doing taking photos at night. If you can find a higher vantage point you'll be able to shoot some city skylines that show the various coloured lights and structures still 'awake'. Try shooting a panorama and if you have a camera with a panorama mode built in, such as the Samsung NX11, it'll be even easier to do.

Long exposures

Long exposures can be used to capture light trails, they can be used to emphasis how busy a place is by turning people's movements in to streaks of blur or you can use them to make people who are moving 'vanish' out of shot while you're static subject remains in frame. It can be tricky trying to get the exposure right though so it's probably a good idea to shot in RAW so you have more freedom to adjust your images in post processing. You could also try bracketing so you have a variety of shots, exposed differently, to pick from.

White balance

Most of the time auto white-balance should be able to cope with the different light temperatures that are found in a city but you may need to adjust your shots further in your editing software to make it so each light source looks correct.

Advice On Shooting In Towns And Cities At Night:

Advice On Shooting In Towns And Cities At Night: Samsung NX11 Competition Advice On Shooting In Towns And Cities At Night: WB700 Competition

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SosFM 14 86 1 United Kingdom
28 Sep 2011 12:34PM
A tip to remember is the use of smaller apertures will create starburst effects from street lights that are in your scene. So if you dont want this effect use larger apertures.

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